Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What's With the Three Suns in Die Nebensonnen?

One of the most puzzling songs in Franz Schubert's Winterreise is the second from the end, Die Nebensonnen, in which the near-delusional and exhausted narrator sees not one, but three suns, and longs for darkness.

For those who have ever wondered what Schubert's Die Nebensonnen was all about, its explanation is much simpler and less symbolic than many people think. What the narrator in Die Nebensonnen is looking at is a Sundog, which is an optical phenomenon created by sunlight on ice crystals which forms a solar halo, several points of which are illuminated. You can read more about sundogs at the Wikipedia article on the subject. You can also find some more great sundog pictures and a video posted today on English Russia.

(Image is a Wikipedia Featured Picture by Erik Axdahl)

1 comment:

  1. The plot thickens, Chris. That same phenomenon can explain the cross in the sky that the Roman emperor Constantine saw in the sky just before the crucial Battle of the Milvian Bridge early 4th century A.D.. And led him to start favoring the God of the Christians. It's a big thing right now among Roman historians -- Roman history is my profession which pays piano habit.